Contract Duplication remains a challenge for government and industry and is an issue that the Coalition will continue to highlight in the interest of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the procurement system. Duplicative contracts for the same or similar commercial products and services increase government and contractor administrative, bid and proposal and other overhead costs. Overlapping, duplicative contracts increase confusion and transactional costs for all. Contract duplication is not good for government, industry or the American taxpayer.
That’s why Coalition members are very concerned about the current acquisition strategy being employed by the Enterprise Sourcing Group (ESG) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The ESG’s current acquisition strategy for commercial office systems and modular furniture is to award four multiple-indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts. Additional competitions at the task order level for individual requirements would follow during the life of the contracts.
ESG’s acquisition strategy provides for the award of contracts for commercial furniture that are already on government contracts through the GSA schedules! The GSA schedules program includes all major furniture manufacturers. The GSA schedules also include a robust network of furniture dealers as well as small business manufacturers on contract. Fundamentally, there is no significant difference between a commercial office place and a government office place in terms of furniture needs. The GSA schedules provide the same quality furniture that commercial customers purchase every day; quality that may actually exceed typical government requirements. As such, unique quality demands cannot reasonably justify the decision to conduct a separate procurement.
In multiple award contracts, price competition is driven by specific requirements and commitments to purchase reflected at the task order level. FAR 8.4 task order competition requirements for GSA schedule contracts provide the opportunity for GSA contractors to compete and offer additional discounts from the contract price in response to customer requirements. In addition, GSA Advantage! and e-Buy provide a streamlined framework facilitating task order and Blanket Purchase Agreement competitions.
The GSA schedules already provide the government contract framework, competition, quality and pricing for the commercial furniture that ESG is seeking. As a result, the total cost of ownership when using the GSA schedules is significantly lower than conducting an entirely new acquisition.
Over a year ago, Secretary Gates announced the Department of Defense (DoD’s) Better Buying Power initiative. ESG’s acquisition strategy is inconsistent with this objective. Greater efficiency and effectiveness through the use of pre-existing contracts for commercial services and products is low hanging fruit for the Better Buying Power initiative. Today Secretary Panetta is continuing the drive to do “more without more.” One area where DoD can do “more without more” is by not creating more IDIQ contracts and instead, using pre-existing contract vehicles, like the GSA schedules and GWACs. Such an approach would be a win for DoD, industry and most importantly, the taxpayer.
it is for these reason of waste that The Office of Federal Procurement Policy impressed on agencies to be more like commercial businesses, and think of the costs and administrative burdens associated with launching new interagency contracts. OFPP in its memo of September 2011 urged agencies to know who the competition is in the contracting market and identify a clear customer base before starting a solicitation. Further, the need for the business case, along with the justification and detailed cost analysis further justifying the new vehicle, will hopefully make agencies think twice about starting yet another GWAC, multi-agency contract, BPAs, or agency-specific contract for a requirement that already exists.
The fundamental issue is the assumption (wrongly) of the uniqueness in the agency or organization creating the vehicle. This dilutes the government’s ability to leverage its buying power, and create uneven pricing. Many argue that it restricts competition, but it is quite the opposite. The competition is assured through the original creation of these vehicles, and ensuring opportunities exist for small businesses. it is for these reason that current GWACs, in addition to the GS Schedules, can satisfy most if not all requirements across government.
Do we need yet another vehicle for cloud computing, or furniture in this case? I do not see the justification.